Saturday, December 20, 2008

FAMILY TIES

I received a Christmas card yesterday from my oldest sister. It's one of those individualized cards, covered with photos of family and places, with the greeting nicely printed out as well as the signature.

It brought both cheerful discover and clear-cut regret.

Cheerful discovery, because quite a few people in the photos I have never met. Clear-cut regret, because quite a few people in the photos I have never met.

My oldest sister is some 22 years and 16 days and a hour or two older than I am. Jan was married and already had one child by the time I was born. We have different fathers, dissimilar views from politics to parenting, and an extremely non-sisterly relationship.

I stayed with her family during various times of marital upheaval at home, played with her kids much as cousins would instead of an aunt and nieces & nephews, went on water-skiing trips with her family, learned to drink beer at an extremely young age since there was never enough soda pop.


Harold, my brother-in-law, caught me doing something wrong at his house when I was about five, and threatened to spank me, which is how my nieces and nephew were disciplines. I stood tall and told him he couldn't, I was his sister-in-law. He didn't, but probably should have.

My two brother-in-laws got into some kind of argument that no one even remembers what it was about, but they and my two sisters have not spoken in some 30+ years.

My second sister and I had an incredibly close relationship growing up. I was 'the mistake', change-of-life pregnancy and all that, but Jo just swept me up in her teenage arms and took charge.

So when she suddenly disappeared from my home and reappeared married to some stranger named Bill with a new baby girl, I didn't know what to do. I grew to love Cindy and Chris as much as I did Jo, but Bill was always a little bit frightening stranger who had taken my only sister away.

And Bill gradually slipped Jo further and further away from our family. They took all their summer vacations back in Michigan, spending time with my mother's first husband - I try to believe for his winning personality and not the large amounts of money he accrued after the divorce. He joined a church which did not celebrate holidays - not just Christmas and Thanksgiving, but birthdays and anniversaries.

And whenever I visited Jo at her house, Bill would always be 'around.' I am not hinting that he was monitoring all of her conversation - I am STATING that he was monitoring all her conversation.

We've kept in touch - mainly through the Internet and occasional cards. I drove up to Pasadena last time I was in California, and was saddened to see a resigned, defeated, abused sister in place of the bright-eyed girl who taught me to read and take my first step.

Christmas is supposed to be the time for families to gather. Mine, at least, simply continues to drift further and further apart.

3 comments:

Harmony said...

Can I give you a long-distance hug? Come here!

Harmony said...

Whaaaat? No comment moderation on this blog?

I can say anything I WANT!

damn. boob. fart.

Sailing Past Maturity Straight into Senility said...

Hell YES - you can say anything you damn well want to.

Actually, I trust my readers to be polite, well-mannered & educated readers who would not in the world resort to using lower-class language.

Now, damn it, prove me RIGHT.

(And yes, I will take you up on that hug offer - thanks)